The probably-not-definitive top ten list of SFF bodyguards

Okay, so, you all did an fine job pointing out many SFF bodyguards, so I think it’s now possible to do a Top Ten List of great bodyguards in SFF.

Ranking bodyguards in order from absolutely the coolest to still pretty cool.

1) Murderbot. Obviously.

I’m still baffled that I didn’t think of Murderbot first thing when bodyguards came up in the first place.

Two notes: first, “Fugitive Telemetry” releases tomorrow! So, YAY, but also, Well, there goes tomorrow for getting anything done. Which is fine! Good thing I don’t have a hard deadline looming at the end of this month or anything.

Second, Tor now has under contract three more Murderbot novels plus three other novels by Martha Wells, so that’s fantastic. I can hardly think of another author I’d more like to see get this kind of deal. I’m really pleased that the deal includes three non-Murderbot novels because I look forward very much to seeing what she’ll write. She’s supposed to be releasing one book per year and the first non-Murderbot novel, Witch King, is due out in 2022. Hopefully nothing will go wrong!

2) Sergeant Bothari.

Mary Anderson said in the comments of the previous post: “He’s fascinating and tragic and heroic in so many untypical ways.” This is true. He’s one of the more complex and definitely the most untypical secondary character I can think of and that’s why I’m putting him second on this list.

3) Catlin and Florian from Cyteen.

I’ve read Cyteen many times. I never re-read it from the beginning. I don’t even skim. I just start where Young Ari is born. From that point on, this is one of my very favorite novels by CJC, and watching Young Ari and Young Catlin and Young Florian grow up is a huge part of why.

I like the recent sequel Regenesis too, largely because I really enjoy watching Justin and Grant get their lives thoroughly in order and I like Ari’s maturing relationship with them both. It’s a slow novel in which technically not much happens for most of the story, but since my favorite scene is the one where Ari’s friends move to Wing One, I obviously don’t care about that.

Having said that, this is a weird cover for Cyteen:

Who are those people? Justin and Jordan? Who else could they be? Why are they on the cover? If these guys are supposed to be other people, who? If you’re putting people on the cover at all, why not Ari? Why not Ari with Florian and Catlin? I’m glad my cover of Cyteen is different.

4) Jago and Banichi from the Foreigner series.

Far, far better covers for this whole series:

It’s hard to remember back to the very beginning, when Bren had just met Banichi and Jago and doesn’t really trust them, far less have a real relationship with them.

5) Maia’s bodyguards in The Goblin Emperor — although of the supporting characters, the secretary, Csevet, is most important. Frankly, I don’t think Maia would have been able to manage without him.

6) Sarkis in Swordheart. It’s sooooo much easier to find good bodyguards in romance novels, and this is a fantasy romance. This isn’t my favorite book by Kingfisher/Vernon, but I did like it quite a bit. It’s light and fun (mostly).

7) Kemen in the Erdemen Honor series. which I reviewed at the link. Kemen is more a soldier than a bodyguard, but he takes a bodyguard role in this book. I liked this series in some ways more than it deserves. It has some very catchy elements, and the third book was an important inspiration for Tuyo, as you’ll see if you read that review.

8) Derisha in Matadora. I liked this book and this whole series possibly more than they deserved, too. In Matadora, we have very catchy, fun situations; a school setting — school for bodyguards — I do love the right kind of school story — and a protagonist who grows into herself in ways that appeal to me.

I know I said Top Ten, but that’s a pretty good list of the bodyguards I’m personally familiar with. I’m pretty likely to read some of the books you all suggested in your comments in the previous post, so I think I’ll leave some room here. If any more great bodyguards occur to you, by all means add them to the list. Maybe I’ll wind up making this an SFF Bodyguard Year and read a lot of bodyguard stories … and then be unable to stop myself from starting a fantasy novel with a bodyguard protagonist …

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4 thoughts on “The probably-not-definitive top ten list of SFF bodyguards”

  1. I rank Rian very high, mostly because Wheel of the Infinite is a long-tine favorite–right up near Bothari; On the other hand, I bounced hard on Foreigner.

  2. I love Wheel of the Infinite, but I have trouble thinking of Rian as a bodyguard. I think there are two reasons for that: First, Maskelle is so tough herself that she doesn’t need a bodyguard — tick her off too much and she’ll call down a lightning strike, which is way more than he can do; and second, Rian does a heck of a lot of stuff that’s nowhere near Maskelle. He’s always going off to do this or that. Protecting Maskelle is also something he’ll do if he happens to be handy when she needs him, but I can’t see that as his primary role, or even a secondary role. So … that’s why.

    It’s kinda the same with Idrys in Fortress in the Eye of Time. He’s a great character, but I can’t really think of him as a bodyguard.

  3. Oh! What about the Cassilines in the Kushiel’s Dart series? Obviously Jocelin doesn’t stay in a bodyguard role, but that’s how he starts out.

  4. SarahZ — I didn’t think of that one, but yes! Especially since I liked Jocelin very much.

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